Q&A on Social Responsibility with Henry Schein’s Stanley Bergman
Q: Henry Schein has been a highly visible dental industry participant in giving back to local communities, and has been ranked first in the industry for social responsibility for four consecutive years in Fortune’s list of America’s Most Admired Companies.
Q: Henry Schein has been a highly visible dental industry participant in giving back to local communities, and has been ranked first in the industry for social responsibility for four consecutive years in Fortune’s list of America’s Most Admired Companies. How and when did this philosophy for giving develop at your company?
A: Since Henry Schein was founded by Henry and Esther Schein in 1932, our commitment to giving back to society has been a fundamental value for the company. From Henry Schein’s earliest days, the company has worked hard to ensure that Team Schein members feel they are part of a company that treats each individual with dignity and respect, and gives back to the communities we serve.
Henry Schein’s commitment to social responsibility has always been rooted in a concept launched in the mid–18th century, when Benjamin Franklin spoke of enlightened self–interest. For Henry Schein, Franklin’s concept translates to our vision of “doing well by doing good,” a firm belief that giving back to the health care markets and communities in which we serve furthers our company’s long–term success. In a phrase, we are “helping health happen.”
As Henry Schein evolved from a family–run storefront drugstore to the largest distributor of health care products and services in the combined North American and European markets, our commitment to social responsibility has expanded steadily in size and scope. To better harness and direct our efforts as the programs we supported became increasingly diverse and wide–reaching, in 2001 we established Henry Schein Cares, our global social responsibility program. The mission of Henry Schein Cares is to assist in narrowing the disparity in the delivery of health care services and information to underserved communities in the U.S. and abroad, and to provide assistance in times of humanitarian emergencies.
Q: What do you try to achieve through Henry Schein Cares?
A: Henry Schein Cares focuses on several key areas of activities. To promote access to care, we support the programs of community–based health professionals and non–governmental organizations (NGOs) that seek to reduce disparity by providing health care products and equipment for underserved communities. Our Global Donation Program contributes dental, medical, and veterinary supplies to more than 100 NGOs annually. In the area of health diplomacy, we facilitate opportunities for health professionals to work together and use the power of health to reach beyond political or religious divides.
To enhance health care advocacy and education, we support educational programs and advocacy initiatives that address issues of concern to our customers. We work to enhance the overall well–being of the communities in which Henry Schein operates through a wide variety of community wellness programs. In the area of humanitarian relief, disaster preparedness and response, we actively participate in the planning, coordination, and shipping of vital health care supplies in response to disasters around the world.
Q: That is a wide range of activities. Are there some Henry Schein Cares dental programs that you are especially proud to support?
A: We are quite proud of all of our Henry Schein Cares activities, and feel that each program is special. We do have a few programs, though, that are particularly significant.
For six years, Henry Schein has been the exclusive provider of professional products for the American Dental Association’s Give Kids a Smile Day, which provides free dental screenings, treatment, and educational programs for an average of 550,000 underserved children every year through the services of volunteer dental team members across the country. Much of the success of this program is a result of the generosity of nearly 50 of our supplier partners, who donate dental products for professional dental screening and prevention kits.
Through our flagship Healthy Children, Healthy Lifestyles program, we promote access to health care and provide free medical and dental services to underserved children in cities across the United States. Co–sponsored by state and local health organizations, this program underscores the fact that oral health is an essential component of primary health care. Nearly 20 of Henry Schein’s supplier partners donate medical and dental products for child health screenings, and this year we will have served nearly 5,000 children in nine cities. We are very proud that Healthy Children, Healthy Lifestyles has been recognized as one of four Give Kids a Smile program champions by the ADA.
Henry Schein Cares programs span the globe. In Europe, our outreach efforts include everything from a free theater performance about oral health that we organized for kindergarteners in Germany called “Carius and Bactus,” to a mobile dental unit we sponsored for seniors in France. Through our partnership with Miracle Corners of the World, we helped build an advanced dental clinic in Songea, Tanzania – one of the first in that region of the country. Through our partnerships with NGOs like Direct Relief International and Medshare International, we’ve been able to promptly and effectively respond to numerous humanitarian disasters around the world, including the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the earthquake in Pakistan, 9/11, and the recent cyclone in Myanmar.
Through Henry Schein Cares’ work in the area of health diplomacy, we have been privileged to support the Bridges to Peace initiative, an innovative partnership between Hebrew University and Al–Quds University in Jerusalem, that strives to foster education, patient clinics, and outreach services among members of the dental community in the Middle East. Peace through shared experiences and trust is a hopeful outcome.
When faced with humanitarian disasters, we aim to use whatever resources we have available to us as creatively as possible. For example, we deployed Tomorrow’s Dental Office Today (TDOT) – which was originally conceived as a showcase of the best new dental practices for clinicians – to be used as a mobile clinic in Waveland, Miss. in response to Hurricane Katrina. We ultimately donated TDOT to Mississippi to be a continued resource to the state’s dental community.
Q: What is Henry Schein’s formula for success in the area of social responsibility?
A: The global health challenges that face us are simply too complex for any single sector to successfully solve. We believe the most effective way to address global health care challenges at the community level is through culturally–competent, collaborative public–private partnerships between all segments of the oral health community, the dental industry, clinicians, professional associations, and educators, as well as governments, local communities, and NGOs.
The impact of Henry Schein’s core competencies, which include our extensive health product offerings and logistical distribution capabilities, our close relationships with customers and supplier partners, and our extensive communication network, are made exponentially effective when coupled with the unique contributions of the other sectors of the dental community. Therefore, the formula of Henry Schein Cares’ success is our focus on harnessing our own core competencies, while leveraging our strong ties to all essential sectors to form and facilitate innovative partnerships and capitalize on our collective strength.
In our public–private partnership model for giving, we view each sector as an integral and interdependent spoke supporting a wheel that can address health care challenges of common concern. Henry Schein Cares seeks to be the “hub” of the wheel, a catalyst organization that mobilizes our partners to contribute the skills and resources for which they are best suited. The power of this model is clearly seen in programs like Give Kids A Smile, where our partnership with the American Dental Association, our supplier partners, and dental team volunteers have resulted in free oral health care for underserved children at more than 2,000 locations across the country.
All of us at Henry Schein welcome new partners from throughout the dental community to join our ongoing social responsibility programs, and to contribute ideas for new opportunities to create partnerships to meet the local, regional, national and global health challenges that face us. Together we can continue “helping health happen.”